VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California (AP) — NASA fired three microsatellites into space over the Pacific Ocean Wednesday morning to study the earth’s magnetic fields, a week after a planned launch was scrubbed due to a technical malfunction.
The 55-pound (24.75-kilogram) ST5 satellites, which will test new technologies for future science missions, were carried aloft from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Lockheed L-1011 jet.
Shortly after 6 a.m. PST (1400 GMT), when the plane reached 39,000 feet (11,700 meters), a compact Pegasus rocket dropped from the aircraft’s belly, fired its engine and ferried the satellites on a 10-minute climb into space.
The launch was broadcast live on NASA’s TV station. – CNN
Will the coming massive solar storms expected to peak in 2012 damage the Earth’s magnetic fields? We will take a hit, but what might happen as the sun zaps our planet’s radiation shield repeatedly with over 1,500 gigawatts of power ( four times the U.S. power grid.)? We can expect some nice light shows, certainly.
“Charged particles in space from the Sun become pulled into Earth’s magnetic field and are trapped. Once they are trapped, the particles spiral towards the Earth’s magnetic poles, where the particles hit the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. These collisions give off energy that we see as colored light. ” – AURORA
Check out Space.com’s animated display of the last 48 hours of solar activity. Image generated by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft. (SOHO)